Suspended Labour MP addressed opposition supporters in
Dhaka, saying government has created ‘culture of
By Randeep Ramesh
Simon Danczuk: ‘Sanctions should be applied if there is not a return to true democracy’.
Photograph: Jon Super for the Guardian
Simon Danczuk, the suspended Labour MP ordered to repay £11,000 in expenses, has come under fire by
’s government for interfering in its
“internal affairs” after he flew to Bangladesh Dhaka
and called for sanctions to be imposed on the south Asian nation.
Danczuk, who flew to the Bangladeshi capital on Friday, addressed tens of thousands of supporters of the opposition Bangladesh National party – telling them that since taking power, the current government had created a “culture of fear” with a “break down in human rights ... and political opponents disappearing”.
Speaking of the ties between
and Britain , Danczuk called on British ministers to say
“ the relationship has … soured. Sanctions should be applied if there is not a
return to true democracy”. Bangladesh
Simon Danczuk speaks at Bangladesh National party conference.
British ministers have not broken off relations despite political violence scarring the country – and regularly visit
. The Bangladesh remains the largest bilateral donor to UK , sending about £180m a year. Bangladesh
A spokesman for the Bangladeshi high commission in
said the MP allied himself with the
opposition, including extremist groups, to “interfere” in democratic politics. London
’s internal politics is interference in the
internal affairs of the country,” he said. “ Bangladesh has a flourishing democracy and the next
elections are set for 2019. Bangladesh
“Danczuk’s comments are similar to the one of the opposition parties Bangladesh Nationalist party, which is allied to the Jamaat-e-Islami party – which has been described as a ‘criminal organisation’ and has been identified to have links to all radical ... terrorist groups.”
Danczuk’s call for sanctions to be applied to
echoes the call by Tarique Rahman, the
opposition’s leading politician and scion of a political dynasty who lives in
exile in Bangladesh . He faces a number of charges in London , including one of money laundering, all of
which he denies. Bangladesh
Wikileaks reported that the
embassy in US Dhaka had recommended a ban on entry for Rahman in
2008 into the because of “egregious political corruption
that has had a serious adverse effect on US national interests”. US
Danczuk told the crowds: “Let me start by saying Tarique Rahman is very well and in very good spirits. I met with him recently and there is no doubt he is looking forward to returning shortly”.
Danczuk was suspended in December by the Labour party after newspaper allegations about that he exchanged explicit messages with a 17-year-old girl. He is currently the subject of a police investigation after allegations of rape were made against him.
Danczuk, vice chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Bangladesh, has long courted the Bangladeshi vote in Rochdale, telling community leaders before the general election the poll was important “because we need to retain people in parliament who will speak up for the people of Bangladesh... That’s why this is an important general election”.
When contacted by the Guardian, Danczuk said that there was nothing wrong with meeting Tarique Rahman because the government had allowed “him to stay here”.
“It’s not interference,” he said. “I did say that sanctions should be considered because of what has happened in
. Numerous reports show the breakdown in
human rights. The British government needs to pressurise Bangladesh into reason.” Bangladesh
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The
urges all UK ’s political parties to work together to
strengthen democratic and political accountability. Bangladesh is an important partner for the Bangladesh and we continue to support its people in
their aspiration for a more stable, prosperous and democratic future.” UK